Ravalli Co. doesn't have enough staff to run drive-through vaccinations

Tiffany Webber
Posted at 9:46 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 18:38:02-05

HAMILTON — Ravalli County is putting the finishing touches on plans for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations, as the shots become available to a wider number of Bitterroot residents.

But those vaccinations won't be happening in drive-through operations.

“We wanted to provide a safe environment for doing that. That's why we chose not to do the drive-through like they're doing in other counties," Ravalli County Health Department director Tiffany Webber told MTN News.

While Missoula and larger counties opt to dispense some vaccinations in a drive-through setting, Webber says the county simply doesn't have enough trained medical staff to give the shots and also respond if someone has an adverse reaction.

That shortage of nurses also means it will take some time to make sure everyone gets vaccinated.

“Well, if we're looking at like, say, 80 appointments for a day. 80 is not very many when you think about how many people live in the county that are asking for the vaccine," Webber said.

The county has listed other potential vaccination operations on its website, but that all depends on when, and how much vaccine becomes available.

“It would just be so nice if, when we do start seeing that push as vaccine comes in, we can hit all those places so people have some options to where they're gonna go," Webber said.

People may point to last summer's big operation when the county conducted drive-through coronavirus tests.

But Webber says that was done with lots of outside help, including the National Guard. Plus, the county said it hasn't been needed again, given the steady pace of community testing.

“As far as testing goes, we've seen a drop in the numbers of positive cases. But I haven't seen a decrease in the number of tests being performed," Webber said.

"When I get results for negatives and positives, we've gone from, you know, page and a half of positives to a page and a half of negatives with just a few positives," Webber continued. "I don't really have an answer as to why our numbers are down or why we're not seeing as much virus.”

One thing Webber asks for is consideration and patience, not speculating why your neighbor has had a shot and you're still waiting.

“I just think you do yourselves a disservice to try and fret or worry or look at who got in and who didn't get in," Webber said. "We just need to be nice to each other a little bit longer and you know, unfortunately, people in that 70-plus they can stay home. Police officers can't.”

Webber also wants to dispel rumors that people will be required to be vaccinated. She says that's simply not the case.